Experts: Restrategise with sound policies and tightening of SOP

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is set to undergo a fresh lockdown from tomorrow with the exception of Sarawak due to a high number of active cases and red zones.

In the past week, the number of Covid-19 cases remain in the four figures and reached a record high of 4,029 last Saturday. The Klang Valley, comprising Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, remains at the top.

Health experts have urged the authorities to restrategise in order to curb the spread of Covid-19 or risk being stuck in a vicious cycle.

Infectious diseases specialist Datuk Dr Christopher Lee said: “The current MCO is useful only as a temporary band-aid.”

He said current restrictions could not go on for too long as the cost on the national economy and livelihood, especially those in small and medium enterprises and the B40 group, was huge.

“While some tightening of standard operating procedure is needed, public behaviour needs also to be moulded by sound policies.

“This would include stronger buy-in from other ministries as currently, too much is on the Health Ministry’s plate, ” he said.

On Tuesday, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that Kedah, Perak, Pahang, Terengganu, Perlis and Negri Sembilan would be placed under the MCO from tomorrow.

He added that the decision was made following reports by the Health Ministry that these states were experiencing a spike in the number of Covid-19 positive cases and that infections were happening within the community.

Dr Lee, who is a member of the Selangor Covid-19 taskforce, said efforts should also be made to ensure a safe working environment, considering that many Covid-19 cases had been reported at workplaces.

“To ensure a safe working environment, it needs a huge push from the relevant ministries, the occupational health and safety department and employers as well as employees, ” he said.

“Every sector has to work hard now to prepare for post-MCO so that we’re better placed to detect early and control another major surge. We certainly don’t want MCO 3.0, ” he said.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said employers in the states previously under conditional MCO were mostly allowed to operate but once placed under MCO, only employers in the five essential economic sectors were allowed to operate.

“With such situation, a further slowdown in the economy is expected and a higher retrenchment rate may occur and more employers, especially micro employers, may not survive, ” he said, adding that more targeted incentives should be introduced to help struggling businesses.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, flexibilities should be given to employers to retain employees.

“This is critical as employees who lose their jobs will find it hard to seek alternative employment, ” said Shamsuddin.

Universiti Malaya virologist Prof Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar said the intention of the current MCO was to reduce the number of patients needing medical care to a more manageable level.

“It will result in challenges in many ways affecting livelihood and decision as to whether to allow schools to open as planned. MCO is just to buy time but it cannot last forever, ” he said.

He suggests that all employers prepare their workplaces for biosafety measures.

Consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin proposes that the key element to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic is through a well-executed Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS) system recommended by the World Health Organisation.

“Until and unless this back-to-basics population infection control is efficiently and effectively operationalised, the nation will continue to relapse into a vicious cycle of unending MCOs, ” he said.

“Isolation will only work if the rakyat, especially the B40, receive food security and financial support during the MCO period.

“The government through the relevant ministries and agencies must provide this social security net.

“Otherwise, the people will fail to comply with home isolation in order to put food on the table, ” he said.

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lockdown , covid-19 , pandemic , MCO


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